As is widely known, tourism represents a key economic sector at local, regional, national and international levels, and its potential to generate positive impacts on the community is equally relevant. To this, we must also add the opportunities for innovation that the blue economy represents, as a sector of activity that is currently booming.
Therefore, actors in either sector have the power to contribute to the creation of more sustainable environments and resilient communities, for example through the exploitation of offshore renewable energy or through the co-creation of environmentally friendly tourism experiences that actively involve the local community.
In other words, the impact derived from this sector can be very positive and therefore, the professional activity or the launching of new initiatives should take into account what their effects on the environment in which they operate are, and how these can be as favourable as possible (thus creating additional value). Thus, the contents below are targeted to all learned and can be used as an initial contact, no matter their previous level of knowledge on the topic.
Furthermore, an important part of creating a more meaningful impact is through collaboration with others, so this topic is closely related to the other Bite Size pieces collected within the “Your Ecosystem” theme – think about how working together with other actors can multiply a positive impact on the community!
The main aims of this Bite Size of Learning are:
- Learn what a positive impact is in terms of enterprises.
- Understand one’s own power and opportunities to create positive impact(s) in the community.
- Understand how the collaboration process can boost positive impacts(s) and provide value for the community.
What is understood as “positive impact”
It is possible to identify an “impact” as a direct or indirect consequence of the effects of a professional activity or initiative in the blue economy sector on one’s own community.
In this sense, an impact can fall into different categories, but essentially we will focus on two types of impact: social and environmental, however… It can also be a positive cultural change! It is also worth bearing in mind that the impacts of your activity can be both direct and indirect, but all of them should be taken into account and monitored over time for meaningful decision-making.
Therefore, a positive impact is an effect that has positive consequences for the environment and/or people. According to the University of Michigan, Center for Social Impact, we can speak of positive social impact as “a significant, positive change that addresses a pressing social challenge, as a result of a deliberate set of activities with a goal around generating social impact and a social change”.
A positive environmental impact is one that benefits the natural environment around you or even contributes to mitigating the negative effects of other possible impacts (your own or others’).
Why is it important?
Creating impact is inherent to professional activity, and measuring and recognising the positive impacts generated is increasingly essential in today’s economic and social environments. This can be clearly seen, for example, in the complex CSR policies of large corporations, the evaluation of public institutions when awarding subsidies or grants to companies or the perception of the target public, which is increasingly socially and environmentally committed.
Triple Bottom Line
To understand the impact of your professional activity or start-up initiative, we suggest following the Triple Bottom Line model, which is very popular in today’s corporate ecosystem.
This is an accounting framework that incorporates three dimensions of performance: social, environmental and financial. This differs from traditional reporting frameworks, as it includes ecological (or environmental) and social measures to which it can be difficult to assign appropriate means of measurement.
- People – measures different variables related to community equity, social resources, health, well-being and quality of life, and “people” are defined as all stakeholders and members of your community.
- Planet – is essentially about the environmental consequences that the activities and outcomes of a business initiative or activity have on the environment in which they operate. It measures, for example, metrics such as water pollution, carbon footprint, energy use, etc. More on how to be a more sustainable approach and integrate green practices in your (prospective) small business within our “Green Approach” area of knowledge.
- Profit – the achievement of satisfactory economic results is naturally inherent to any professional activity/corporation, therefore it is easy to understand why the achievement of profits should be measured as well. However, this can also be evaluated in terms of impact on economic growth, business innovation, and business decision making.
When looking at your impacts (both positive and negative), consider how they align with or show potential areas for improvement against the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN for 2030 as the standard for sustainable economic development.
At this point, if you reflect carefully on your idea/business:
- How could you define your main impacts according to the Triple Bottom Line model?
- Can you see an alignment between these impacts and your values/goals?
How to measure your impact
As set out by the International Association of Impact Assessment, impact measurement is a comprehensive process of “analysing, monitoring and managing the intended and unintended social consequences, both positive and negative, of planned interventions (policies, programs, plans, projects) and any social change processes invoked by those interventions. Its primary purpose is to bring about a more sustainable and equitable biophysical and human environment.”
Creating and measuring positive impacts allows you to check whether the objectives of your organisation, product or initiative are being adequately met.
In this regard, it is important that you consider your impacts (and those of your potential partners) from the following perspectives:
- Inputs – i.e. those resources necessary to carry out your activity. How do they affect your community? What are the impacts of your suppliers? Can you establish more positive strategic alliances for your environment?
- Activity – this is what you do within your company or initiative, i.e. what you do with the resources available to achieve your objectives, whether it is your core business or complementary activities. In this sense, you can reflect, among other aspects, on your CO2 footprint, or the corporate culture you want to implement in your environment.
- Output – the result of your activity for customers or final beneficiaries. What are the most positive aspects of your delivery? How does this output impact your community? Is this impact positive or negative? For whom?
- Outcome – the change arising de la entrega de tu output a la comunidad.
- Impact – the extent to which that change arises from the delivery of the product, service, etc.
To begin with, one of the tools you can use to measure and monitor the impacts created by your activity/project/product/service according to your (future) business model is the Value Proposition Canvas, as shown below. However, we recommend that you look at the “customer” perspective from a “community” point of view instead.
Other standards you can explore for measuring your impact include:
- A Short Introduction to the GRI Standards
- Standard GECES and the Theory of Change
- On measuring the sustainability of tourism: MST – especially relevant for SMEs active in tourism.
The following webinar might also help you better understand how to track your impacts, and how they might be linked to the Sustainable Development Goals as proposed by the UN: Webinar: Impact measurement and sustainable development goals
How to collaborate with other to create a positive impact in your community
Collaborating and working with other relevant stakeholders and actors in your ecosystem can bring great benefits to your professional activity and, equally, this collaboration can generate very positive impacts for your communities.
This is essentially because the possibility of having varied experiences, knowledge and resources, as well as access to a wider target audience, facilitates the creation of value for the community and business innovation in sustainability.
Some simple strategies you can apply in creating positive impact collaboratively include the following:
- Reflect, create or modify the essential pillars on which to develop your activity within the coastal community or the blue economy sector, so that you are always aware of the main impacts of your activity and how you can transform them into more positive impacts for your environment. Also base your strategic alliances with stakeholders and relevant actors in your network on these pillars.
- Set SMART objectives when collaborating with others that take into account the positive social and environmental impacts you want to achieve. Be transparent in communication and realistic in goal setting, and take into account the needs of the target group/end beneficiaries and the resources available in the ecosystem.
- Define beforehand the impact measurement mechanisms that you will use during your collaboration, and periodically evaluate the achievement of the set objectives in order to be able to establish corrective measures if necessary.
Tourism is an essential economic sector for the GDP of many European countries, so its economic and social impact is evident, but also its environmental impact. In fact, the dependence on tourism is particularly evident in countries such as Spain, Greece, Italy, France, the Netherlands,… but it is possible to approach its (future) impacts from different perspectives.
In an attempt to generate a more sustainable and resilient tourism, European SMEs and professionals in the sector should actively contribute to the creation of positive impacts. As far as tourism related to the blue economy is concerned, it is possible to generate a positive impact when the activity is properly planned, developed and managed.
Some types of tourism that are the most beneficial to the blue economy might be the following: Dive Tourism, Fish Tourism, Local Artisanal Markets and Marine Ecotourism. The positive impact of tourism on the blue economy is due to the restoration and conservation of the environment. Sustainable tourism is an opportunity to strengthen economies and foster green growth, and when this happens nature recovers, marine life returns, local communities are engaged and empowered, and culture thrives.
To learn more on how to create a smarter, more sustainable and inclusive coastal tourism (and related services and activities such as hospitality) in Europe, you can have a look at:
As in the case of tourism and hospitality, sporting and leisure events, and therefore the professionals and actors in the sector in coastal communities, can have a great impact on the communities where they take place.
An example of this is, in Spain, the case of Barcelona. The city makes great use of water sports, and has a long track record of success in leveraging events to develop sectoral strengths. This results in growing the local/regional blue economy sector. On that note, the America’s Cup regatta will be held in Barcelona in 2024, bringing huge benefits to the city and creating a positive impact on the blue economy.
On the other hand, and from a more local perspective, it is possible to point out some of the potential positive effects that leisure and sports activities can have on local economies. For example: the creation of jobs in the community, the co-creation of more complete tourist experiences that allow strengthening the tourist positioning of the locality/region, promoting the active participation of citizens in leisure and training activities, committing to the sustainable use of natural resources,…
Ocean energy is clean, renewable and has the potential to provide 10% of Europe’s current electricity needs by 2050. That is enough to power 94 million homes every year. In addition, a strong ocean energy industry will generate many economic benefits for Europe, from local jobs to global export opportunities.
Since the oceans are the world’s largest untapped source of energy, marine energy – which harnesses the power of tides and waves, as well as differences in temperature and salinity, to produce electricity – can be seen as the next big breakthrough in energy. This has a huge positive impact on blue economies, being the future of renewable energy that is not only highly productive but also environmentally beneficial.
Locally, citizens and professionals in coastal communities can do their bit to make an even greater positive impact by using this type of renewable energy (i.e., marine, solar, etc.), leaving aside other more environmentally damaging ones. This way you will benefit and the planet will be less polluted.
The fishing sector can be broadly understood as: deep-sea fishing, coastal fishing, river fishing, fish farms, seaweed farming, fish by-products, sports and leisure activities, etc.
If we think specifically about the ways of creating positive impacts that the fishing sector can have at the local or regional level, we can mention, for example, the following:
- Fishing practices that respect the marine environment, as opposed to more aggressive practices such as trawling.
- Exploitation of opportunities derived from seaweed farming and its subsequent application to various industries (gastronomy, cosmetics, etc.).
- Dissemination of the fishing profession and its traditional local/regional practices among the younger generations.
- Collaboration and co-creation of joint experiences with other actors in the nearby ecosystem (e.g. tourism companies, local restaurants or providers of leisure services in marine or river environments).
- Contributing to food security through sustainable fish production.
- And many more!
To learn more about the main European approach to the impacts of fisheries on the sustainability of the blue economy, you can access the following report: REPORT on Toward a sustainable blue economy in the EU: the role of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors | A9-0089/2022 | European Parliament
Also, you can learn more on how the worldwide fishery industry might contribute to the SDGs: The sustainable development of fisheries and aquaculture
Environmental protection plays a key role in creating a positive impact on the local, regional or national communities in which you develop your activity or launch your initiative. In fact, environmental impacts are one of the fundamental pillars of the Triple Bottom Line model, both in terms of inputs, the activity itself and the outputs delivered to the environment.
In that sense, all sectors of the blue economy, including fisheries, aquaculture, coastal tourism, shipping, port activities and shipbuilding, must reduce their environmental and climate impacts. Addressing the climate and biodiversity crises requires healthy seas and water resources, as well as a sustainable use of their resources to create alternatives to fossil fuels and traditional food production.
The transition to a sustainable blue economy requires investment in innovative technologies. Wave and tidal energy, algae production, the development of innovative fishing gear or the restoration of marine ecosystems, among other changes, will create new jobs and green businesses in the blue economy. But environmental protection of our coasts and environments is not achieved exclusively through major changes, but through more modest actions that nevertheless have a direct impact. Think, for example, of the process of selecting environmentally friendly raw materials or selecting partners whose environmental and social objectives are appropriately aligned with the stakeholders to co-create a new product/service or initiative.
Transport has a major impact on the blue economy, the tourism and commercial sectors. Whether we are talking about cruises or directly about the transport of goods, both have a great impact on the growth of this economy we call blue.
- Mar Interior: un océano de oportunidades en el corazón de Galicia
- Cádiz Atlántica
- EnvironSmart Navigation Natura
- Recycle your cooking oil
- A review of the main programmes and certificates for responsible tourism development
- Hotel Kakola – Designed on Sustainable Basis
- Responsible sea kayaking adventures by Aavameri
- Sustainable small ports
- Sustainable practices of a certified sustainable tourism resort – Ab Kasnäsudden Oy
- Regenerative travel – Canoeing on Lake Saimaa
- Principles of Sustainable Tourism for National Parks and Protected Areas
- Reducing food waste to increase sustainability in tourism
- Inishowen Maritime Museum
- Donegal Local Enterprise Office [LEO]
- Grow Remote
- Fáilte Ireland
- Donegal ETB
- BIM – Bord Iascaigh Mhara
- Hellenic Marine Technology Society
- Hellenic Marine Environment Protection Association
- Blue Horizons
- Blue Growth
- EPE S.A.
- Yachting Malta
- AX HOTELS
- The Great Bubble Barrier
- Holwerd aan Zee
- A North Sea Perspective on Shipping, Energy and Environmental Aspects in Maritime Spatial Planning (NorthSEE)
- Zero Emission Services
- Cornelis Vrolijk
- Offshore Solar with Oceans of Energy
- Port4Innovation1 Corrosion Tool
- Triple bottom line (3 pillars): sustainability in business
- Sustainable Blue Economy: investing in the future of the oceans
- Beyond Ocean | Virtual Ocean Dialogues
- Co-creating a regenerative blue economy for all | Daniel Kleinman | TEDxBoston
- International Principles For Social Impact Assessment
- Measuring value: a guide to social return on investment (SROI)
- REPORT on Toward a sustainable blue economy in the EU: the role of the fisheries and aquaculture sectors | A9-0089/2022 | European Parliament
- Proposed approaches to social impact measurement in European Commission legislation and in practice relating to EuSEFs and the EaSI – Publications Office of the EU
- GRI – Download the Standards
- Developing a sustainable blue economy in the European Union
- Further Readings
- Positive Impacts of Tourism on the Environment | Greentumble
- Sustainable development | UNWTO
- Ocean 14 Capital’s impact fund receives €30 million boost
- Davos 2023: Awash with ocean action and inspiration